The Employers' Association

The Employers’ Association (TEA) is a not-for-profit employers’ association, formed in 1939, with offices in Grand Rapids serving the West Michigan employer community. We help more than 600 member companies maximize employee productivity and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, and consulting services.

TEA is in the business of helping people. This blog is intended to address human issues, concerns and the things that impact people - be they self-perpetuated or externally imposed. Feel free to respond to the thoughts presented here, for without each other, we are nothing!

Monday, September 27, 2010


One of the greatest freedoms our country offers is the unrestricted right to express our opinion within the voting booth. Many feel that their single voice does not make a difference so they chose to muffle it by not voting – but when we do not speak, how can we claim victory (or complain when what we want is not implemented)? Choosing not to vote is a blatant disregard for the freedom we have to express our views within a system that all too often closes out the opinions of private citizens.  Many individuals living elsewhere would (and are currently) fighting to have the rights we are freely given - yet many prefer to let others make decisions for them by failing to exercise their right to vote.

This November offers us the opportunity to participate in an election that might truly make a difference in our daily lives. Both parties are running on the plank of "change" this year.  The fulfillment (or failure to fulfill) past promises does not seem to weigh heavily in this election.  Newscasters seem to be creating news through intense analysis of what is being said and discussion about polls trying to form public opinion rather than simply reporting on what has happened.  A lack of fact-based accomplishments are minimized while a plethora of opinion-based accusations and empty promises are maximized by the media - a group seeming to want to write history through strategic projection rather than report on what has happened.  Whether a candidate speaks for the people or for the party seems not to matter this year – it is a year of transition in which opinions based on nothing but words and whispers might carry the day UNLESS we take our responsibility seriously and listen to what the candidates are saying this year as the elections near.  As you approach this opportunity to express yourself, do not take it lightly

Regardless of political affiliation, we all have the right to express our personal opinions within the voting booth. Far too many, however, forfeit their right to voice an opinion by withholding their vote in a form of “silent protest.” Of those voting, many act on the recommendation of a reporter, newscaster, friend, union, church or past history rather than upon solid information gathered through intelligent research. Look into each candidate’s accomplishments to verify their ability to deliver on campaign promises. Understand and make sure you can embrace their values before you support them as your elected official. Vote with your head this year – looking into each candidate and issue thoroughly for yourself so that you can make an informed decision.  This year's election offers two distince choices - one being more emphasis on an individual's ability to create prosperity with less government support and programming, the other focusing more on increasing societal support through more and bigger government programs.  The paths are as divergent as they can possibly be - built upon two drastically different visions for what our future should look like.  Consider not only the hope and change promised this year by both parties but also how the words you hear can be brought to fruition - and whether the sacrifice needed to make them a reality makes sense OR is simply dust in the wind.

Your vote CAN make a difference (as can your NOT voting!). Rather than continuing to suffer in silence, let your actions shout from the voting booth! You may (or may not) end up being part of the solution but at least you will no longer be part of the problem. Do not remain a passive spectator to the action that is unfolding in front of you this November – be an active participant in the formation and implementation of life-changing agendas.  Make sure you can make an informed choice on our leadership options and on our ballot agendas.  Our country was built upon these unalienable rights - do not allow them to languish within a sea of neglect!

Friday, September 17, 2010


I spoke to a company recently about the difficulty they are having finding entry level manufacturing help. Much has been said about the lack of qualified candidates having the requisite job skills to perform specialized positions available within our region – but it seems strange that no- to low- skilled positions are difficult to fill, also. Another testament to our times would be the employer heard on the radio saying that a job fair to hire 25 employees for $10.00 per hour (as long as they tested negative for drugs) resulted in 10 applicants.

While it is difficult to find work during these economic times, and there are individuals looking long and hard to find jobs that would utilize their abilities, it seems our unemployment system might be de-motivating some in terms of a job search by paying too much for too long. When the last unemployment extension passed Congress, the temporary service that this organization uses could not find qualified employees to fill their entry-level positions (someone actually told the firm that their unemployment benefit had been extended so they no longer needed to work!).

Michigan has a high level of unemployment (which understandably causes a high level of frustration to those legitimately seeking work) but it is very disconcerting when one hears that it is more economically advantageous to access the government system than to accept a position that does not pay very much money. Our country built upon the concept of free enterprise – the belief that a consumer-driven system whose ability to supply should meet or exceed its demands.

When did our country become so adept at giving to individuals according to their needs (or wants) while taking from individuals based on their ability to pay? We tread upon a dangerous path when we choose the one offering no resistance. Do not allow a third party (the Government, in this case) to remove your desire to taste the feast of success by filling you with cheese and crackers before the main course. While snacks are always welcome, they often cause us to lose sight of the meal to which we are entitled.

It is a slippery slope upon which we tread when we embrace the concept of getting something for nothing – for often nothing ventured truly does result in nothing gained!

Monday, September 13, 2010


While our Constitution grants us certain freedoms and unalienable rights, do these freedoms extend into the workplace? There was once an understanding that individuals are accountable for what they do and say – has this accountability been lost over time? What ownership does an individual have (or expect to have) over personal materials found on his or her company computer – or does use of a workplace computer for personal reasons constitute a misuse of corporate resources? Does an organization have (and expect to retain) ownership to all thoughts, ideas, communications or activities that are generated “at or as a result of work”?

Our world is changing. Where once we worried about “unauthorized removal of company property” we must now concern ourselves with “e-communicated” thoughts, ideas, trade secrets OR the inappropriate use of company time due to potential misuse of the tools that we use to make us more efficient.

Does a worker have a “right to privacy” when at work? What is reasonable “personal use” of a computer (if any), of a copy machine (what is too much), or of the company phone system (is a personal conversation ever acceptable)? Conversely, if an Organization allows “limited use of company time and equipment” (as many do), does the Company retain the right to monitor any personal communications or examine any files marked “personal” if they stored on the individual’s assigned terminal or system?

We tend to create onerous rules and laws that are difficult to enforce as we attempt to protect worker privacy, workplace sanctity, and insure that employment discrimination has not occurred. Perhaps we should put as much time and effort into accomplishing the core objective of the workplace – to produce exceptional goods or services – as we do to insure that individual freedoms are retained. A return to the tenant that each individual should receive “an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work” might go a long way into eliminating the need for workplace privacy issues. What do YOU think?